Athlete of the Year Awards and a New 70.3 in Tasmania – Triathlete

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USAT doles out Athlete of the Year awards

This week, USA Triathlon announced the 2021 athletes of the year, which included awards in the pro, junior elite, age-group, and paratriathlon categories. Topping the list are pros and Olympians Katie Zaferes and Kevin McDowell; Taylor Knibb and Sam Long (pro non-drafting); Suzie Snyder and Seth Rider (pro off-road); Kendall Gretsch and Brad Snyder, who each brought home a gold medal from Tokyo, earned top bidding among all paratriathletes; and Minori Minagawa and Dougin Walker as the women’s and men’s age group triathletes of the year, respectively. Notably, Walker, 56, also picked up the Masters triathlete of the year Award. “When I started triathlon in 1987, I loved the fact that it was something different and kind of crazy,” Walker said. “I’ve grown to appreciate how positive and supportive a vast majority of the people in the sport are, even most of those who are fiercely competitive.”

Gretsch grabs gold again—this time in Beijing 

Speaking of Kendall Gretsch, she added to her medal haul this week—but not in triathlon. Rather, the 29-year-old took home the gold in the 10km sitting biathlon event at the Beijing Paralympics, just over six months after sprinting to gold in the paratriathlon wheelchair race in Tokyo. Gretsch, who made history four years ago in Pyeongchang by winning the first U.S. women’s biathlon medal of any color at the Olympics or Paralympics, has been busy in Beijing: She earned a bronze medal in the women’s sitting biathlon sprint, placed fourth in long-distance sitting cross-country race, finished fifth in sprint sitting cross-country, won a silver medal in biathlon individual sitting, and placed sixth in middle-distance cross-country. 

RELATED: The Rapid (Multiseason) Rise of Gold-Medalist Kendall Gretsch

Ironman expands to Tasmania 

Ironman has added another bucket-list destination to its list. Tasmania 70.3 is set for a seven-year stint starting next February. The course starts in the Derwent River, then takes participants over a route that offers the most vertical gain of any Ironman 70.3 course in Oceania, before ending with a 13.1-mile scenic run in and around the capital city of Hobart. “This will put our state on the map and once again showcase our stunning natural locations to the world,” Tasmania’s Premier Peter Gutwein said. Registration for 70.3 Tasmania opens March 31. 

Record-breaking brothers continue prolific triathlon journey 

This week, the University of Georgia profiled alum Sam Crozier, who, along with his brother Billy, set a Guinness World Record in September for the most long-distance triathlon races completed in 12 months. In 2021, the brothers completed 25 half-ironman races, beating the former record by one. But they’re not stopping there: In the past five months, the Croziers have raced several times, traveling as far as Dubai, Oman, and Panama, in the hopes of topping 25. “The question is, what are you capable of, and what are your limits?” pondered Sam Crozier. “We’re going to find out.”

Three-time cancer survivor and Ironman athlete’s bike damaged during flight 

Biker beware: Another triathlete is dealing with the fallout of damage to her bike after checking it onto a flight. This time, the incident occurred during a Southwest flight, when age-grouper Nicki Leo reported her bike bag “ripped to shreds” upon landing in Denver after a training trip. “I saw the bike pop through the bag and there [were] no handlebars, there was no computer, there was no electronics,” said Leo, who wrapped her bike with bubble wrap inside the bag. “All the electronics were pulled out and because it is carbon, it has been deemed unrideable. It’s not safe to ride.” Leo, a three-time cancer survivor who is training for the Ironman World Championships, estimates her loss comes to $11,722, and reports that Southwest offered her a $250 travel voucher and requested she file a claim. “It may just be a bike to them, another thing that they are just offloading, but there are stories behind these items,” Leo said. “It is not just a bike, it’s a symbol for me of not staying in bed every day, being depressed about some of the cards that I was dealt in life.”

Podcast Notes 

  • The Triathlete Hour checks in with Joe Maloy, a 2016 Olympian, who talks about his career as an athlete as well as his current position as the head of development at USA Triathlon.  
  • Couples Championships winners Non Stanford and Aaron Royle join ProTriNews to recap the race and share more about their upcoming seasons.
  • Paula Findlay and Eric Lagerstrom also debrief the Couples Championship on That Triathlon Life podcast, then answer listener questions.
  • On the TriDot Triathlon Podcast, coaches Bobby McGee and Elizabeth James discuss the role emotions play in race preparation, combatting anxiety and nervousness, and also offer visualization tips.
  • Dubai 70.3 winner Marten Van Riel is featured on the MX Endurance podcast, to talk about his goals for the season (including dominating on the World Triathlon Championships Series circuit).
  • Hungary’s Csongor Lehmann and Canadian Kira Gupta-Baltazar head to the World Triathlon podcast to share more about their backgrounds: Csongor, a top young talent from Hungary, and Gupta-Baltazar, the 2021 NCAA Women’s Triathlon champ. 

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